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This section of the News and Media Services department site tracks stories in print and broadcast media that feature Auggie faculty, students, and staff. The area also is home to material developed for University-related programs, events, and more.

Soomaal Fellowship Showcases Pandemic Work of Two Emerging Artists

MPLSART.com recently interviewed Khadija Charif and Yasmin Yassin, two Soomaal House of Art fellows whose solo exhibitions are on display through December 14 in the Augsburg Galleries. 

Photographer Yasmin Yassin’s show, “Should Be Good Times,” explores her journey towards motherhood during quarantine, taking viewers physically through a womb-like space with photographs hung from the ceiling. 

“I thought, ‘What if you have to go in and experience the exhibit by using your body and moving through it?’” she told MPLSART.com. “You start at the beginning of this hallway-like gallery space and go all the way down, but you have to move through the pieces as well, and it gets narrower as you go. I wanted to provide that darkness and enclosure, to try and recreate the feeling of spending all that time in my apartment.”

Artist and Poet Khadija Charif’s show, “Strangers of My Sight—In Truth and In Trial” explores “the kindness, love, and short companionship that strangers provide.” The exhibit includes a private space with two chairs and a set of cards which present compelling quotes and questions for visitors to explore. 

“What I hope is that this space allows others to explore conversations with a stranger,” said Charif. “Grab someone you’d like to know, invite them to the table and ask questions. Not the light questions that bore us but the questions that excite us and allow us to deconstruct the barriers we naturally set when we meet strangers.”

The Soomaal Fellowship is a collaboration between Augsburg Galleries and Soomaal House of Art, a Somali artist collective in the Seward neighborhood, that aims to harness the power of art as a tool for intellectual and civic engagement by advocating and advancing the creative development of Somali visual artists. The partnership will continue with new fellows showcasing their work on Augsburg’s campus every 18 months.

Read more on MPLSART.com: Connection/Isolation: Soomaal Fellowship showcases pandemic work of two emerging artists

Augsburg Outpaces Other Minnesota Schools in Diversity Growth, Business Journal Reports

Augsburg University experienced the largest percent increase in nonwhite students among any college or university in Minnesota over the past decade, according to data analyzed by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. The analysis looked at institutions with more than 1,000 students using data from the Department of Education. 

Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow was interviewed about the changes. “We are still a predominantly white institution in terms of structure and leadership, though that’s changing,” he said. “So we’ve had to do a lot of important training and intercultural work, knowing that these students are coming to us [with] a very different life experience. And they come to us with different kinds of needs and expectations.”

He attributed much of the growth in Augsburg’s diversity to its relationships with local high schools. Nearly 70% of Augsburg’s most recent entering undergraduate class identified as nonwhite.

Read more from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal: With college affirmative action in the balance, these Minnesota schools have made big strides in diversity

Augsburg Represents Minnesota in Common App Direct Admissions Pilot

Today, Common App announced the 2022-2023 launch of its direct admissions pilot, which aims to flip the script on college admissions and offer proactive admission to college-interested students. 

“Direct admissions is about changing the narrative of a college education from one of scarcity to one of opportunity,  by ensuring students know that college opportunity is an abundant resource—and one that’s available to them,” said Jenny Rickard, President and CEO of Common App. “No waiting, no wondering if the institution is looking for a specific set of characteristics. While we’re still in the early stages of this pilot, we’re excited about the potential of this work to help more students pursue a college education.”

Common App has piloted a direct admissions program since 2021, offering admission to students who created a Common App account and provided enough academic information– but had not yet completed all of their open applications. The latest iteration of the pilot offered admission to 18,000 students at six participating institutions, and over 800 students accepted the offer. Results showed the impacts of the intervention were strongest for Black or African American, Latinx, and first-generation students. 

For the third round of the pilot, Common App and 14 participating institutions reached out to nearly 30,000 students with direct admission offers. Augsburg is the only school in Minnesota selected to participate in this year’s pilot. 

“Our institutional commitments to equity and inclusion require that we work to transform inequitable systems in higher education,” said Robert Gould, Augsburg’s vice president for strategic enrollment management. “We jumped at the opportunity to pilot direct admissions through the Common App as part of a comprehensive new approach we call Augsburg Applies to You.

“Moving away from a gatekeeper model of admissions means we can connect with students who thought college was out of reach. It gives our counselors more capacity to support students through the college selection process and cultivate a sense of belonging even before they set foot on campus.”

About Augsburg

Augsburg University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and 11 graduate degrees to approximately 3,200 students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the Twin Cities and nearby Rochester, Minnesota, location. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. An Augsburg education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church, and shaped by its urban and global settings. To learn more, visit augsburg.edu/about.

About Common App

Common App is a not-for-profit member organization committed to the pursuit of access, equity, and integrity in the college admission process. Each year, more than one million students, one-third of whom are first-generation, apply to college through the Common App’s online application. In January 2019, the Common App united with Reach Higher, the college access and success campaign started by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time at the White House. By joining forces, Common App and Reach Higher accelerated progress toward our joint goal of supporting all students, especially low-income and first-generation students, in achieving their higher education dreams. Founded in 1975, Common App serves over 1,000 member colleges and universities worldwide. To learn more, visit commonapp.org and follow @CommonApp and #CommonApp on social media.

43rd Annual Advent Vespers Returns In Person

Augsburg's Advent Vespers takes place in the sanctuary of Central Lutheran Church, with choir, orchestra, and packed pews.For more than four decades, Augsburg University has ushered in the Advent and Christmas seasons with Advent Vespers, a magnificent experience of music and liturgy, focusing on the theme of preparation and culminating in the joyful celebration of the Incarnation.

The 43rd Advent Vespers will be held in person at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis, with one livestream option available. 

  • Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 8 p.m. (open dress rehearsal)
  • Friday, December 2, 2022 at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 3, 2022 at 2 p.m. (with livestream) and 5 p.m.

The event is free, with a suggested donation of $30 per person. Seating envelopes are required for entry and are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. They can be requested online, by mail, or in person at the Augsburg Music Office. Seats are going fast—reserve your spot today.

Shuttle service will be available from Augsburg’s Anderson Music Hall to Central Lutheran and back, with limited parking available in lot A on Augsburg’s campus. More information about directions, parking, and shuttle service is available online.

Podcast: Augsburg Enrollment Leaders Talk College Access

Headshots of Robert Gould and Stephanie Ruckel on a green and orange background with white text reading, "Enrollment Edge: the enrollmentFUEL podcast. Episode 45: Robert Gould & Stephanie Ruckel"Robert Gould, vice president for strategic enrollment management, and Stephanie Ruckel, director of admissions operations, joined host Jay Fedje as featured guests on a recent episode of the Enrollment Edge podcast by enrollmentFUEL. 

The episode focused on the power of direct admissions—a simplified approach in which students are admitted based on high school GPA, in some cases before they have even applied—to break down college access barriers. 

“Essentially, what we’re trying to do is remove as many barriers as we can for students, and give them the most options to enroll in whatever institution is a good place for them,” said Ruckel. “When you start thinking about the student’s perspective, you can start questioning the [admissions] process a little bit differently. Why are we requiring these things? How are we using this data? Are we using this information? 

“The challenge in doing this is really stripping down the application—making sure we are collecting what we need to collect, but keeping it as simple as possible.”

Augsburg’s participation in pilot programs with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the Common App, as well as significant changes to the Augsburg application itself, puts the university at the leading edge of this new policy movement. 

“I want to credit the whole team,” said Gould. “We’ve literally taken the admissions process and the system and changed it in one cycle. We had some good thoughts about how it fulfilled our mission as an enrollment division, but I think more importantly, people had the appetite for it—wanting to build deeper relationships and wanting to eliminate barriers for all students.”

Listen to the episode here: Direct Admission: Unpacking College Access

The Wall Street Journal Highlights Augsburg’s Admissions Approach

The Wall Street Journal wordmark in black text.The Wall Street Journal highlighted Augsburg’s efforts to streamline and simplify the admissions process in a recent article about the growth of direct admissions. 

“Augsburg University in Minnesota is participating in direct-admission pilots with the Common Application and with the state of Minnesota, and cut its own application to be completed in an average of seven minutes,” noted reporter Melissa Korn. 

The piece quotes a Richfield high school senior who received several college offers through Direct Admissions Minnesota, the state’s pilot program. Augsburg has already connected with 184 students through the state pilot, nearly half of whom weren’t previously on the school’s radar. As of early November, the shift to direct admissions has accompanied a 44% increase in applications over last year.  

Read the full article in: More Colleges Offering Admission to Students Who Never Applied

Environmental Advocates “Flip the Switch” on Solar Demonstration Project

Four students pose in front of the solar shed in lot B behind Mortensen Hall. One is pointing to the solar panels on top of the shed.The small crowd gathered by the freeway wall burst into applause as Professor Joe Underhill fired up a handheld sander. Despite the cloudy day, it was powered by the sun. 

The shed at the west end of Lot B attracted plenty of curiosity during its construction in the summer of 2022. On October 6, it was officially unveiled as a solar-powered demonstration project Underhill calls a “Unit of Resistance.” 

Temporarily located at the end of 21st Ave, the shed currently houses tools and supplies for the River Semester, the Center for Global Education and Experience program Underhill also leads. Both projects, he says, are part of an attempt to rethink higher education as something more hands-on and to empower students with a sense of agency.  

“In the face of huge problems like climate change and the student mental health crisis, what small steps can we take to focus on what we can do, instead of what we can’t?” he asks. 

The idea for a solar-powered work shed on campus arose last spring in Underhill’s The City and Environment keystone course. Inspired by the Augsburg Day Student Government’s 2021 resolution calling on Augsburg to explore on-campus solar and reach carbon neutrality by 2030, the class wrote a grant proposal to the ADSG’s Environmental Action Committee to buy solar panels. 

EAC funded the purchase of six 320-watt Renogy Solar panels, a 24-volt battery bank, and a power inverter. Underhill used other grant funds to purchase wood for the 8×8-foot structure, which features a roof slanted at 45 degrees—the average angle of the sun at Augsburg’s latitude. He and students built it over the spring and summer, and electrical work was completed this fall by Aaron Jarson, the Augsburg electrician.

Senior Zoe Barany says that, like the campus solar and carbon neutrality resolution, the shed is a tangible expression of students’ interest in advancing Augsburg’s climate commitments. 

“The funds for the project came from the campus Green Fee,” says junior Maya Merritt, who leads sustainability initiatives as the student government EAC officer. “With the Green Fee, we’re effectively taxing ourselves to support sustainability. If you’re paying the Green Fee, you get a say in where it’s going.”

Augsburg “Isn’t Waiting” on Direct Admissions, Reports Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed logo, white letters on orange backgroundInside Higher Ed recently featured Augsburg in a piece on the growth of direct admissions. While the article cites Minnesota as one of the states with the most movement toward direct admissions this year, Augsburg stands out for its comprehensive move away from traditional admissions practices. 

“Augsburg admissions counselors are shifting their time from reviewing applications to talking to those admitted about the university and what the students hope to accomplish there. Those are the discussions that motivated many of them to become admissions counselors,” according to Robert Gould, vice president for strategic enrollment management.  

“It’s a dream come true,” Gould said.

The piece was the latest in a series on direct admissions in higher education. Read the full article in Inside Higher Ed: Direct Admissions Takes Off.

Learn more about Augsburg Applies to You, Augsburg’s new belonging-centered enrollment approach.

 

Paul Pribbenow Named to HUD’s Higher Ed Engagement Advisory Group

Paul C. Pribbenow

Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Campus Compact announced the HUD + Higher Ed Engagement Network, a new collaboration to strengthen higher education community action. Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow was one of three college presidents named to a 30-member Think Tank of strategic leaders that will guide network activities. 

“Augsburg has long been engaged in vital place-making work with our neighbors, our students, and our employees,” said Pribbenow, who chairs the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership in Minneapolis. “It’s an honor to be able to share what we’ve learned about mutually sustaining partnerships in an urban setting where we have deep institutional roots.”

The Think Tank will collaborate with HUD leaders to develop and disseminate strategies for campuses to engage with HUD field offices and initiatives nationwide. Member institutions will put these plans into action at the local level, with the goal of building inclusive, sustainable, and thriving communities through increased civic and community engagement. Focus areas will include worker empowerment, maternal and infant health, eviction prevention, landlord outreach, housing security and access, broadband access and digital literacy, and cultural competency. 

“We are thrilled to partner with Campus Compact on this initiative,” said Michele Perez, HUD’s Assistant Deputy Secretary for Field Policy and Management, in announcing the program. “This partnership will bolster HUD’s and the members of the Higher Ed Engagement Network’s ability to serve our most vulnerable populations through the higher education space. Together, we will leverage our strong connections in our respective industries to enable a just, equitable, and sustainable future.”

The HUD + Higher Engagement Network will be led by Campus Compact in partnership with the University Economic Development Association and two organizations with which Augsburg and President Pribbenow have been closely involved: the Anchor Institutions Task Force and the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities

Engaging as an anchor institution in Cedar-Riverside and at Augsburg sites around the world is a key strategy articulated in Augsburg150: The Sesquicentennial Plan.

Read more about Augsburg’s anchor institution commitments:

Augsburg Music Professor Wins Entrepreneurship Prize

A white man in a sweater, jeans, and knit hat sits with his arms crossed among keyboards and music recording equipment.Intrigued by the potential of online education, J. Anthony Allen started a small company in 2018 to provide music instruction via the web. It grew organically at first, with a handful of classes and a few licensing agreements with larger platforms.

Then came the pandemic. 

“It was really a question of the right place and the right time,” said Allen, an assistant professor of music, media, and management at Augsburg. Punkademic was already established when the world saw a huge increase in demand for online classes of all kinds in 2020. Today, it serves more than a million students from every corner of the globe. 

Allen entered Punkademic in the prestigious MN Cup entrepreneurship contest earlier this year. The competition, which is based at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business, provides seed funding and support to emerging entrepreneurs from across the state. His goal was to make it past the first round in order to connect with a mentor from the ed tech world. 

Punkademic did make the first cut. And the next one. In September, it was named a semifinalist for the grand prize and took first place in the Education and Training division. 

Allen plans to invest the $25,000 MN Cup award in marketing and general operating infrastructure for the company, which remains a slim operation despite its explosive growth. Punkademic’s flexible model offers individual class purchases as well as structured courses on a subscription basis. The site’s most popular offerings include courses on music theory, composition, film scoring, sound design, and ear training.    

Allen sees a clear connection between his “side hustle” and his work at Augsburg, where he teaches classes in music business and technology, runs the music production minor, manages Augsburg’s recording studio, and serves as interim music department chair. 

“Teaching is a practice. All of this work online has informed my teaching style and abilities,” he said. “Here in the music business program we also talk about how all of music is an entrepreneurial act in one way or another. 

“For me, Punkademic is proof of that concept.” 

To learn more, visit Punkademic’s website or follow the company on TikTok.

(Photo of J. Anthony Allen by Jade Patrick)